It is time to Unlearn the hypnotism that has kept us long bound….
Posted by olakunlesoriyan
Since our independence in 1960, our great nation Nigeria has been through a lot, socially, politically and economically. Every facet of our national life has been tried and still being tried. We have an unusual pool of intellectuals who believe or claim to have solutions to the state of affairs of our nation. They operate in different spectrums of the society and identify themselves by different nomenclatures. In most cases, their status is nebulous and therefore mission not clearly defined. They also hop from status to status under different circumstances and dispensation. Today, they vehemently speak the language of criticism and tomorrow, they eulogize the same authorities they have taken to the cleaners before. When their observer seems to be angry and confused about their positions, they hibernate for some time, knowing that their observers have very short memory. They resurface again on the scene at an opportune time and still enjoy the blind blessings of same observers. Beyond the fact that the observers have short memory, they do not have the right social tool to properly determine their commitment.
These intellectuals have dominated every area of our political lives also. They have served in the executive, legislature and judiciary arms of government under our many democratic experiments, tagged, first, second, third and fourth republics and full military government. They are more known by their acts than by their ideology. In the true sense of it, I do not think ideological commitment play any major role in their engagement. Even when they claim to engage the system, they do not do it fully because it is in most cases a decoy to call attention to themselves. The people in authority understand that and it seems they have accepted it as normal practice. As a matter of fact, I believe they encourage it to give the citizens an impression that they already have committed enemies. But if you observe it very well, it has been a cycle. You may call it social, political and economic roller-coaster.
One of the best strategies that the intellectuals, I am calling our attention to today have employed is what I call tokenism. Tokenism is completely different from calling attention to yourself. It is a social, political or economic intervention aimed at managing one’s guilt as an intellectual, who carry the burden of knowledge and therefore is compelled to do something. Tokenism is not strong and strategic enough to cause any meaningful and enduring change and that is not the idea. The real agenda is that it is always noticeable enough to help its protagonists manage their social conscience. They may not be easily wooed by people in authority and even when they are wooed, they turn it down and make huge public issues of it to score more social or political points, but they increase in influence and popularity and the people whose cause they claim to represent get worse.
Tokenism does not have the capacity to force a sense of mission; it is not driven to be motivated by results. Tokenism chooses anger over strategy. You see it in the reckless use of abusive and disparaging words for the object of their criticism. The advent of the social media, which makes everybody a content provider, has made matters worse. Self-censorship, which is critical for matured social comments, has found its way out of the window of public comments. All of these have not helped us as a people.
It is time for society to begin to make new demands about how we can tolerate critics but reject those who are critical. The intellectuals of our land have been very active in being critical for over fifty years, yet there seems to be no attendant dividends gracing their seemingly rigorous labour of seeming ‘social intervention.’ The model defines the nuisance value of what we call social criticism. It draws the thin line between judging the system and crusading for genuine change. Most of our intellectuals judge the system. And as long as we continue to judge, we remain blinded to the real issues of the system. As I always say, the system has a life of its own and produces after its own kind. I think the first and the costliest mistake of our intellectuals is that we underrate the impact of the system on the totality of who we have become. Therefore it is easy for us to stand far off and see ourselves as the anointed repairers of system, who have not defiled ourselves. The truth of the matter is that everyone is tested according to the praise accorded him.
Constructive Self-criticism must be the foundation of a genuine and enduring crusade for change in the Third World. Here are what I believe to be the children of Constructive Self-criticism: the first is identification: it helps us to identify the real enemy and the issues; second is positioning: it helps us to begin our positioning by a commitment to personal change, focusing on our area of influence, instead of our area of interest. Positioning will help us understand that genuine change are led by minds and hearts, more than heads; and will help us to make huge investments in our personal and social transformation; third is aggregation: it helps us to distill intervention into social solutions, which represent a clear alternatives to every social, political and economic issues we have identified in the system, upon which the people are educated, and such social solutions become the manifesto for change.